Preparing Career-ready Students by Building Effective Virtual Teamwork Skills


  • Sihui Ma University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Amy Leman



virtual team, team effectiveness, career-ready, food science


As the food industry becomes globally connected, it is essential to provide Food Science students with experience working in virtual teams before they enter the workforce. Working in teams virtually brings extra challenge due to a lack of face-to-face interactions. FSHN 230, Professional Issues in Food Science (asynchronously online), provided students the opportunity to practice virtual teamwork skills. Low, medium, and high dosage team projects allowed for experiential learning and practice in virtual teamwork. Team effectiveness (psychological safety, dependability, structure and clarity, meaning, and impact) was closely monitored using team members’ evaluations of the team at the middle and end of the semester. Students' perceptions of learning were assessed using a survey at the end of the instructional period. Across all teams, students were most likely to report experiencing psychological safety and dependability in their virtual teams and least likely to report experiencing the work as meaningful. Across all teams, students were most likely to perceive the virtual team project as assisting with learning about food science-related careers. As higher education continues to create real-world simulations to teach skills, such as virtual teamwork, more effort may be needed to help students connect classroom activities and career-ready skills to real-world expectations.


Download data is not yet available.


Artz, G. M., Jacobs, K. L., & Boessen, C. R. (2016). The whole is greater than the sum. NACTA Journal, 60(4), 405–411.

Beer, M., Slack, F., & Armitt, G. (2005). Collaboration and teamwork: Immersion and presence in an online learning environment. Information Systems Frontiers, 7(1), 27–37.

Clapp, J. (2021). The problem with growing corporate concentration and power in the global food system. Nature Food, 2(6), 404–408.

Creswell, J. W., & Clark, V. L. P. (2017). Designing and conducting mixed methods research. Sage Publications.

Dennis, A. R., Robert, L. P., Curtis, A. M., Kowalczyk, S. T., & Hasty, B. K. (2012). Trust is in the eye of the beholder: A vignette study of postevent behavioral controls’ effects on individual trust in virtual teams. Information Systems Research, 23(2), 546–558.

Duhigg, C. (2016, February 25). What Google learned from its quest to build the perfect team. The New York Times Magazine, 26.

Duus, R., & Cooray, M. (2014). Together we innovate: Cross-cultural teamwork through virtual platforms. Journal of Marketing Education, 36(3), 244–257.

Eutsler, J., & Lang, B. (2015). Rating scales in accounting research: The impact of scale points and labels. Behavioral Research in Accounting, 27(2), 35–51.

Garro-Abarca, V., Palos-Sanchez, P., & Aguayo-Camacho, M. (2021, February 17). Virtual teams in times of pandemic: Factors that influence performance. Frontiers in Psychology, 12.

Gignac, F. (2005). Building successful virtual teams. Artech House, Inc.

Gikunda, R. M., Frost, K. J., Boren-Alpizar, A. E., & Gilliam, K. C. (2019). Understanding role establishment, leadership and motivation for role selection in agricultural education student teams. NACTA Journal, 63(2).

Hall, K. L., Vogel, A. L., Huang, G. C., Serrano, K. J., Rice, E. L., Tsakraklides, S. P., & Fiore, S. T. (2018). The science of team science: A review of the empirical evidence and research gaps on collaboration in science. American Psychologist, 73(4), 532-548.

Handy, C. (1995). Trust and the virtual organization. Long Range Planning, 28(4), 126.

Hart Research Association. (2015). Falling short ? College learning and career success.

Hernandez, S. A. (2002). Team learning in a marketing principles course: Cooperative structures that facilitate active learning and higher level thinking. Journal of Marketing Education, 24(1), 73–85.

Hiltz, S. R., & Turoff, M. (2002, April). What makes learning networks effective? Communications of the ACM, 45(4), 56–59.

Jacks, T. (2021). Research on remote work in the era of COVID-19. Journal of Global Information Technology Management, 24(2), 93–97.

Jarvenpaa, S. L., & Leidner, D. E. (1998). Communication and trust in global virtual teams. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 3(4).

Krumm, S., Kanthak, J., Hartmann, K., & Hertel, G. (2016). What does it take to be a virtual team player? The knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics required in virtual teams. Human Performance, 29(2), 123–142.

Lacerenza, C. N., Marlow, S. L., Tannenbaum, S. I., & Salas, E. (2018). Team development interventions: Evidence-based approaches for improving teamwork. American Psychologist, 73(4), 517-531.

Langlais, M. R. (2018). Experiential learning in family life education methodology: Low, medium, and high dosage projects. Journal of Experiential Education, 41(4), 382–396.

Lankau, M. J. (1997). An examination of mentoring, peer developmental relationships, and team participation as sources of learning in an organization. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, 57(12-A), 5220.

Nadler, J. T., Weston, R., & Voyles, E. C. (2015). Stuck in the middle: The use and interpretation of mid-points in items on questionnaires. The Journal of General Psychology, 142(2), 71–89.

National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium/National Technical Education Foundation. (2012). Common Career Technical Core.

Nunamaker, J. F., Reinig, B. A., & Briggs, R. O. (2009). Principles for effective virtual teamwork. Communications of the ACM, 52(4), 113–117.

Pienaar, J., Wu, P., & Adams, N. (2016). Development of virtual teamwork skills for distance students through simulated global virtual team projects. Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice, 142(1), 1–8.

Robert, L., & You, S. (2013). Are you satisfied yet? Shared leadership, trust and individual satisfaction in virtual teams. IConference 2013 Proceedings, 461–466.

Rozovsky, J. (2015, 17 November). The five keys to a succssful Google team.

RW3 Culture Wizard. (2018). Virtual teams survey 2018 executive brief.

Schmidt, S. J. (2019). Embracing and harnessing the intimate connection between emotion and cognition to help students learn. Journal of Food Science Education, 18(4), 87–96.

Sproull, L., & Kiesler, S. (1986). Reducing social context cues: Electronic mail in organizational communication. Management Science, 32(11), 1492–1512.

Wang, M., & Bohn, D. M. (2018). Charging to the end: Course activities for semester-long student engagement in an undergraduate product development capstone course. Journal of Food Science Education, 17(3), 85–93.

Watanuki, H. M., & Moraes, R. de O. (2022). Trust in virtual teams: A systematic review of information systems literature. Journal of Information Systems and Technology Management, 19.

Webster, K. (2001). The scope and structure of the food supply chain. In J. Eastham, L. Sharples, & S. Ball (Eds.). Food supply chain management (pp. 37–54). Routledge.

Wildman, J. L., Nguyen, D. M., Duong, N. S., & Warren, C. (2021). Student teamwork during COVID-19: challenges, changes, and consequences. Small Group Research, 52(2), 119–134.

Williams, E. A., Duray, R., & Reddy, V. (2006). Teamwork orientation, group cohesiveness, and student learning: A study of the use of teams in online distance education. Journal of Management Education, 30(4), 592–616.




How to Cite

Ma, S., & Leman, A. (2023). Preparing Career-ready Students by Building Effective Virtual Teamwork Skills. NACTA Journal, 67(1).